Cultural Heritage News

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  • 01 Oct 2014 4:10 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    UN conference calls for return of Indigenous remains

    A UN conference has called for an intensified effort to achieve the repatriation of Indigenous ceremonial objects and human remains being held in foreign museums and other institutions.

    World News Radio
    1 Oct 2014 - 2:00 PM

    A United Nations conference has called for an intensified effort to achieve the repatriation of Indigenous ceremonial objects and human remains being held in foreign museums and other institutions.

    It's a key outcome of the inaugural World Conference on Indigenous Peoples that has just ended at UN headquarters in New York

    As Kristina Kukolja reports, it's an area where Australia in some respects appears to have led the way.


  • 01 Oct 2014 2:57 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)


    St Louis archaeological society sells Egyptian treasure
    The American Institute for Archaeology says it is “deeply concerned” about the sale of antiquities

    “We are strongly opposed to the proposed sale”, says Ann Benbow, the executive director of the AIA, in an email to The Art Newspaper. “If [it] goes forward, it will tarnish the long-standing reputation of the AIA, which has a strong stance against the sale of antiquities… Archaeological artifacts should be cared for and made available for educational purposes, not put up for auction.” Benbow adds that the AIA has “formally asked the St Louis Society not to go forward with the sale and are awaiting their response”.

  • 01 Oct 2014 2:29 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    ISIS selling Iraq’s artifacts in black market: UNESCO

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has taken over large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, is selling ancient Iraqi artifacts in the black market to finance its military operations in the region, Iraqi and Western officials said.

    Speaking at a conference at the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO in Paris, France's ambassador to UNESCO Philippe Lalliot warned that Iraq’s cultural heritage is in “great danger.”

    The Paris conference hosted a number of international experts and diplomats to discuss ways to save Iraq’s treasures.


  • 26 Sep 2014 2:05 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Scholars Call for U.N. to Ban Trade in Syrian Antiquities

    Bas-relief work on display at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Scholars say antiquities from parts of Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamic State are threatened by looting.
    Bas-relief work on display at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Scholars say antiquities from parts of Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamic State are threatened by looting.Credit Hadi Mizban/Associated Press

    More than 80 prominent archaeologists and other scholars from around the world have signed an open letter calling on the United Nations Security Council to ban trade in Syrian antiquities, a market they say is now destroying Syria’s cultural heritage and providing funding for extremist groups.

    “Our shared world heritage in Syria is being looted and turned into weapons of war,” the letter says. “Ancient sites dating back to the very earliest moments of human civilization are being crudely dug up and sold to foreign collectors.”

  • 26 Sep 2014 12:37 AM | Anonymous
    An open letter to ban the trade in Syrian artifacts. The page also includes a link to add your signature:
  • 23 Sep 2014 10:54 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    For Sale: Prehistoric Woolly Mammoth Skeleton

    A rare woolly mammoth skeleton is being offered for sale in what could be the first auction of its kind in Britain.

    The specimen is expected to attract interest from museums and private collectors around the world because it is almost fully intact.

    Mammoth tusks and other parts of the ice-age animals do come up for sale sometimes, but having a whole body together is uncommon.

  • 23 Sep 2014 10:32 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)
    Accused Smuggler Can Chase Claim for Artifacts

    MIAMI (CN) - A man accused of smuggling 32 ancient Peruvian artifacts into the United States can pursue his claim to the objects despite resisting pretrial discovery, a federal judge ruled.

    The U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized the artifacts from Peruvian citizen Jean Combe Fritz, who entered the United States in Miami in August 2010. The objects, which included bone carvings, ornaments and Inca burial bundles, were believed to be from the Pre-Columbian and Colonial eras. Authorities, however, could not get an expert appraisal right away and released Combe Fritz, who was never prosecuted.

  • 22 Sep 2014 4:29 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    A Sting in the Desert

    By Joe Mozingo

    Photography, video by Katie Falkenberg

    For generations, the people of the Four Corners region have battled the federal government over collecting and selling Native American artifacts. Then agents persuaded a local dealer to go undercover.

    Operation Cerberus Action was supposed to expose a lucrative trade in stolen antiquities.

    Instead, it tore a hole in a Utah town.

    In the high country of the Navajo reservation, a family walked through the pinyon pines, combing the earth for the remnants of a vanished civilization.


    Their breath steamed in the morning air. Dr. James Redd wandered away from his wife and daughter for a few minutes, then called back: “Hey guys, come and look.”

    He pointed to a white shell, smaller than a dime, lying partly exposed in the wind-scoured dirt. It had been carved in the shape of a bird, with a hole drilled through it.

    Millions of such artifacts lay strewn across the region. The doctor's wife, Jeannie Redd, reveled in the way the pieces connected her to the ancient Anasazi culture.

    Jim handed the shell to Jeannie, who hooked it on a safety pin and put it in her pocket, never imagining the trouble it would bring
  • 22 Sep 2014 1:28 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Threats to Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Syria

    Press Statement

    Jen Psaki
    Department Spokesperson

    Washington, DC

    September 21, 2014

    Secretary of State John Kerry will join the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell, and its president, Emily Rafferty, on September 22 to highlight the destruction of irreplaceable cultural heritage taking place throughout Iraq and Syria at the hands of violent extremists like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Syrian regime.

    The event, to be held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City amid the United Nations General Assembly week, will feature a presentation by Professor Michael Danti and remarks from Secretary Kerry, Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, and other distinguished members of the preservation and museum community.

  • 22 Sep 2014 10:02 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    AAAS Satellite Image Analysis: Five of Six Syrian World Heritage Sites "Exhibit Significant Damage"

    In war-torn Syria, five of six World Heritage sites now "exhibit significant damage" and some structures have been "reduced to rubble," according to new high-resolution satellite image analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

    The AAAS analysis, offering the first comprehensive look at the extent of damage to Syria's priceless cultural heritage sites, was completed in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology's Penn Cultural Heritage Center (PennCHC) and the Smithsonian Institution, and in cooperation with the Syrian Heritage Task Force. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the analysis provides authoritative confirmation of previous on-the-ground reports of damage to individual sites.

    AAAS analyzed satellite images of six Syrian World Heritage sites: the Ancient City of Aleppo; the Ancient City of Bosra; the Ancient City of Damascus; the Ancient Site of Palmyra; a site encompassing two castles, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din; and the Ancient Cities of Northern Syria (Jebel Seman, Jebel Barisha, Jebel Al A’la, Jebel Wastani, and Jebel Zawiye). | AAAS

    "Only one of Syria's six World Heritage sites undefined the Ancient City of Damascus undefined appears to remain undamaged in satellite imagery since the onset of civil war in 2011," said Susan Wolfinbarger, director of the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at AAAS. Historic structures at the other five sites, including ancient mosques, schools, and civilian as well as government buildings, have all been damaged and, in some cases, destroyed, AAAS reported. Wolfinbarger added, however, that "the Damascus site also could have damage not visible in satellite images."

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